By Pedro Velazco
Cary Hungate is back where he feels he belongs, at the Kokomo Country Club.
Hungate, who spent 19 years at KCC before moving to Green Acres to be that course’s pro and general manager a little more than a year ago, returned as the Kokomo Country Club’s golf pro earlier this year.
“First, I wanted to go back because I love the golf course and we’re able to host major tournaments in Indiana,” Hungate said. “My family’s kind of basically grown up there. We’re trying to meet these challenges in the economy; I think things will get better. Hopefully we can rebuild the membership.
“I am really looking forward to it. My family’s all excited. They love the course. Everybody’s golfers in my family. We’ve still got a lot of good kids there and I was lucky enough to teach and coach great students out there.”
That teaching role is one of the highlights for Hungate, who often talks about how much he enjoys watching younger players embrace the game and get better.
“I’ve had a lot of great success teaching,” he said. “It’s a great heritage. Our golf course, even though we’ve had these awful summers, it’s still been in great shape. It’s just a great place to play golf.”
Hungate spent a season at Green Acres, getting a look at a different course, and also a wider understanding of what goes into running a golf course.
“It was kind of a different job,” he said. “I was more of a general manager and golf pro, and I cooked, I was ordering food, ordering beer. Those types of things, I have more of an appreciation for. It would be extremely tough to do all of those things in one job. When you try to be a general manager, you appreciate the other guys with you at the club because there’s a lot of hours involved.
“I learned a lot that way and maybe I can help out more [at KCC] if they need me to.”
Hungate says this season he’s working more closely with the membership committee to find ways to attract new members, especially younger golfers who have plenty ahead of them. One of the reasons Hungate is so enthused about attracting people to the club is how highly he regards the course
“I think it’s a golf course where you can get better,” Hungate said. “It says that for itself because we’ve had all these champions come through there. We’ve had state amateur champions on both the women’s and men’s sides. If you’re going to improve your golf game, that’s a great course to be at.
“Our greens are a lot faster than the others in town, you have to learn to chip and putt on those greens. I’m a little prejudiced [in favor of the KCC], but it’s in the top 15 or 20 shape-wise in the state of Indiana.”
He likes to be able to show that off to golfers from around the state. That was another draw back to KCC.
“By far we have more tournaments than anyone,” he said. “It makes you a better player.”
• Hungate, Phil Johnston, Mike Harshman, Mike Grant and Gregg Lucas played in the Barona Creek Invitational Pro-Am Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in San Diego. The KCC contingent took ninth each of the three days of competition.
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